This chapter first presents a framework drawn from intellectual history and
the history of knowledge which may provide university history with relevant
themes and methods. Based on German evidence, Matthias Asche and Stefan
Gerber argue that university history as a genre has flourished in periods of
academic crisis and rapid change. During the decades around the year 1800,
the university and its understanding of itself was rocked to its
foundations, and this seems to have given rise to a need for examining the
historical development of the institution. The chapter then explores the
history of the Humboldtian tradition during the modern era: how it has been
interpreted and transformed, and how it has provided direction to the debate
on the idea of the university. It further provides an overview of the key
concepts discussed in this book.
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